As I write this, a four-legged ball of white Maltese fluff is nibbling his kibble at my feet… and now he is nibbling my favorite socks. Enzo has been with us since February 8 and is now three months old. He was so soft and quiet and snuggly at first—eyelids fluttering, curling up to nap for hours at a time in our laps, tolerating endless trips to the door to learn about what should transpire out there in the snowy cold, gingerly exploring the pile of new toys.
What’s in a name? And then, in a flash, he started living up to his name. In fact, to all of his names. We named him even before we met him. Hubby’s always held that two easy-to-say syllables are best for puppies. Though she always knew her proper name, Miss Puppy Clouseau rather quickly became “Miss Pup,” “PupPup,” and sometimes, just “Puppy.”Ascribing to the theory that the Maltese breed may have originated not in Malta but in ancient Sicily (everyone is entitled to his/her opinion), I lobbied for an Italian name. Going down the list, “Enzo” felt right to both of us.
We agreed that Enzo should also have a second name. For some reason, “Garibaldi,” after the general largely responsible for the unification of Italy, came to mind. Though the Venetians may never forgive him, Garibaldi was bold, brilliant, strategic, and courageous—all characteristics one would want to cultivate in a puppy. Enzo Garibaldi. It stuck.
Then, as we were driving him home that first day, our little bundle of puppy joy sleeping peacefully in my lap, this tripped spontaneously off Hubby’s tongue: Enzo Garibaldi Fittipaldi. After Emerson Fittipaldi, the Italian-Brazilian Formula 1 driver who’d won both the World Championship and the Indy 500. Fully consistent with his additional namesake, I’m happy to report that Enzo is turning out to be a real speed demon.
Time marches on, On day four, the little guy went to bed in the crate and slept through the night, with nary so much as a whine. He’s repeated that stellar performance every night since, which seems pretty remarkable to me, considering my track record with keeping people babies on schedule.
But… as expected (mostly), he’s getting bolder every day. He’s biting everything in view… including people fingers and toes. He unties shoes. He drags the pee pads (which he’s stopped using for their intended purpose) all over the place, redecorating his quarters, our little den, a dozen times a day. He carries toys here and there, then lugs their canvas basket, at least twice his size, all over the place. He’s learned to ring the bell on the door not only when he needs to go out, but also, quite cleverly, when he just wants to play in the snow (last week) or (this week) in the soggy, mud season mess that our yard has become. This from a little creature who’d never been outside till the day we brought him home. Thanks to his people sister, he’s learned to play ball in the basement, where there’s plenty of room to run, slide, and catch. He taught himself to climb up the veranda step and the threshold in week two. On his three-month birthday, February 26, he bravely scaled the basement steps. Three times. And repeated it the next day.
Puppy love. What madness, you may think—for two people of un certain age to adopt a puppy in the first place, let alone in the middle of the worst two weeks of a Mid-Atlantic winter? I could see why you’d think that. I won’t deny that the thought didn’t cross both our minds.
Allow me to back up a bit. When we lost our beloved Miss Puppy Clouseau, we rebuffed anyone who suggested we should get another dog right away. She was irreplaceable, we’d reply, adding that at our age, it wouldn’t make sense to have another dog. How could we ever replace that gentle soul who had given us so much love? You know the answer to that question, though, just as we did, in our heart of hearts. You can’t replace a companion so loved. Miss Puppy was never a substitute for her predecessor, beautiful little Tulip. They were different, each with her own singular personality, each a bundle of unconditional love and nurturing—and fun—in her own precious way. As were all the dear doggies in our shared history.
The pandemic more or less turned the tide. We stumbled on a host of dog videos on YouTube. Newfies (Hubby had one when he was young), Yorkies (like Tulip), Beagles, Havanese (like our little friend Violet). After weeks of this, it became pretty clear how much we missed having a dog, and that pictures of dogs, however charming, just wouldn’t do the trick. We agreed to give it a try, assuring each other that if we were meant to have one, we would, and that we wouldn’t be disappointed if it didn’t happen.
We searched for months for a rescue, as Tulip and Miss Puppy had been (and Sammie and Raven before them), but were unsuccessful. No fenced in yard, no other dog in the house, applications closed before we ever received an alert, out of a shelter’s service area, or just not the right fit. After a series of disappointments, we decided that we wanted a baby to raise, and that we wanted a Maltese (Miss Puppy was a Maltese mix). We reaffirmed that if and when the right doggie showed up, we would know it, and from the moment we saw Enzo’s first photo, we were head over heels.
As for me, these are the things I know for certain at this point in time.
- There hasn’t been this much lighthearted laughter in our house since March of 2020.
- Puppies keep you moving, You have to take them out repeatedly, till they get the hang of it. You have to rescue them from their over-the-top curiosity. You also have to rescue the Muck Boots and sneakers kept at the ready, near the door. I’m not making my daily step goal, but I’m pretty sure that we’re both burning a ton of calories nonetheless (did I mention that there’s not much time to cook or eat?).
- In dogs as in people, manipulation is a skill learned very early in life.
- It’s really fun to watch a puppy’s vocabulary develop. Enzo’s learning words with near lightning speed. He’s also learned to ignore some of them,
- You can learn almost anything you need to know about puppy training on YouTube, which should get some sort of medal for seeing us through the pandemic year(s). Enzo, by the way, watches television, too. He finds theluxurytravelexpert.com very soothing and, like his people, longs to lounge by the sea at the Caesar Augustus in Capri.
- I have found a whole new application for the term “white tornado.”
- Finally, send all the politicians home and replace them with dogs. We’ll all be better off.